Scientists, and their moral duty to resist trumpism

‘A trio of “scientists against a fascist government” set out a program for resisting trumpism with science, delving into the moral duty of scientists to resist the perversion of their work to attain cruel and evil ends.Trumpism includes savage attacks on ideologically inconvenient science — climate science especially — as well as xenophobic attacks on scientists themselves…’

Source: Boing Boing

Radiation Levels Are Soaring Inside the Damaged Fukushima Nuclear Plant

‘Radiation levels inside a damaged reactor at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant have hit a record high, and are the worst since the plant suffered a triple meltdown nearly six years ago… Radiation levels inside the containment vessel of reactor No. 2 at Fukushima have reached 530 sieverts per hour—a figure described by experts as “unimaginable.” …The radiation level inside the plant now far exceeds the previous high of 73 sieverts per hour, which was recorded soon after the triple meltdown in March 2011…

Needless to say, this plant is not fit for human life. Just one dose of a single sievert is enough to cause radiation sickness and nausea. Exposure to four to five sieverts would kill about half of those exposed to it within a month, while a single dose of 10 sieverts is enough to kill a person within weeks.

These surging radiation levels are complicating plans to dismantle the plant. According to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, medical professionals aren’t prepared to treat patients who have been exposed to the levels of radiation currently experienced at the facility. This is a big problem for Tepco, which plans to remove fuel debris as part of the decommissioning process. The dismantling of Fukushima is scheduled to start in 2021 and could take nearly a half-century.

Officials with Tepco aren’t entirely sure why radiation levels are on such a dramatic upward trend. Either previous readings were insufficient or incorrect, or conditions inside the plant are changing. Problem is, the interior condition of the plant is still a big mystery. The high readings suggest that some of the melted fuel that escaped the pressure vessel is lingering nearby. Should this be confirmed, it would mark the first time that tainted debris has been found in any of the three reactors that suffered core meltdowns. Tepco has been unable to confirm the condition of the melted fuel owing to the extreme and inhospitable conditions inside…’

Source: Gizmodo 

What Was Our Universe Like Before the Big Bang?

‘…One of the strangest properties of our universe is that it has very low entropy, meaning there is relatively low disorder, or conversely a large amount of order, among all of the particles. Think of it this way: Imagine a bomb full of sand exploding onto an empty surface—that’s the Big Bang. You would expect a pretty uniform heap of sand after the explosion, but instead, our universe immediately arranged into lots of sand castles seemingly for no reason and with no help, and we don’t really know why, Stefan Countryman, a physics Ph.D. student at Columbia University, explained to Gizmodo. The Big Bang could have (and maybe should have) resulted in a high-entropy mass of uniformly distributed, disorganized stuff. Instead, we’ve got star systems, galaxies, and galactic clusters all linked together with dark voids between them. We have order.

Additionally, entropy or disorder can only increase over time—without outside help, the sand castles will erode away. In fact, according to Carroll, our observation of time is dependent on increasing entropy since the universe began. Entropy is a physical property that is completely time dependent, riding the one-way time train into the future.  So: the laws of physics say entropy can only increase, and today’s entropy is still very low. Carroll says that means the early universe had to have had even lower entropy—in other words, it must have been even more organized. That has implications for what things were like before the Big Bang. “There’s a lot of people who think the early universe was simple, smooth and featureless with tiny little ripples and that’s a natural place for universe to start,” said Carroll. “Once you think about entropy… your perspective changes and you realize it’s something you have to explain.” …’

Source: Gizmodo

After years of being “locked in,” patients communicate, say they’re happy

‘Patients with complete “locked-in syndrome”—conscious, but fully paralyzed and unable to move even their eyes—may soon be able to mentally break out.Using a new, noninvasive device that measures brain waves and blood flow, four locked-in patients were able to communicate by answering yes or no questions, neuroscientists report this week in PLOS Biology. The four patients, all completely paralyzed by Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), answered geography questions, correctly identified family members’ names, and even said they were happy and glad to be alive…’

Source: Ars Technica

UFO found in Google Earth image of Antarctica

‘A flying saucer was spotted on a Google Earth image near the South Pole in Antarctica. You can see it right here. Mysterious Universe claims that “melting ice could have formed a round depression as it sank into the surrounding snow, or wind could have created a small whirlwind effect as it blew into alcoves in the rock wall.” Screw that though. I want to believe…’

Source: Boing Boing

A Yale history professor’s 20-point guide to defending democracy under a Trump presidency

Beginning with:

‘1. Do not obey in advance.Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.’

Source: Quartz